Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A voice project

As part of my work on the soundtrack for 'There's a Monster in My Piano' for Garlic Theatre I am collecting true stories about, and people's early impressions of,  pianos.  This has involved sticking a microphone in front of my interviewees and so I am learning the knack of helping them relax while keeping my own mouth shut. An excellent discipline.

I didn't have much to do with pianos as a child myself.  I was just getting interested in the unplayed instrument in our sitting room when we moved abroad and left it behind.  But one teenage episode sticks in my mind.  I was a boarder at a minor public school (private school, if you live across the pond) and weekends could really drag.  So I had plenty of time to walk up the steps onto the stage in the memorial hall.  But the lid of the grand piano was closed and this was the most direct route:

Step 1: the piano stool
Step 2: the top of the piano
Step 3: the stage 

The music teacher, also a boarding master, was young and keen and when he saw a chalky footprint on the top of his pride and joy he was livid.  He determined the shoe size and print pattern (basketball boots were the 'trainer' of the day) and went on a Cinderella-style hunt for the perpetrator. Fortunately the story doesn't have a fairy tale ending. It was a nervous time but I was never caught because:

Step 1: I hid the offending boots at the first rumour of trouble
Step 2: Though tall for the times, I had taken the precaution of growing feet small enough to pass for those of a much younger boy 
Step 3: I had had the foresight to be made a prefect and so, as part of the establishment and old enough to know better, I had placed myself beyond suspicion

I have met a number of non-players with piano related tales to tell.  If you have a tale to tell, as a pianist or not, do let me know.


  1. When I was at primary school, we had our school dinner in the main hall, which held the school's upright piano. One of the benches we sat at was partly behind the piano. The back of the piano was covered with fabric, which had a few tears in it. I discovered that inedible school pudding could be quietly slipped into the gap behind the fabric. This went on for most of a term, until the music teacher decided that the piano had to be tuned....The retuned piano was moved, and we no longer ate our dinner behind it.

  2. I'm surprised they didn't scrape it out and put it back on your plate. Personally, I think you showed great initiative.